Prisoners' Rights

As the United States Supreme Court has noted, “Prison walls do not form a barrier separating prison inmates from the protections of the Constitution.” As an organization dedicated to the defense of civil liberties and human rights, The Rutherford Institute agrees.

The Rutherford Institute receives hundreds of requests each year from prisoners seeking advice and information on how to navigate their way through our complicated court system. Faced with pressing legal issues such as claims of innocence, ineffective attorneys, physical abuse and religious discrimination, these prisoners often find themselves lost in our puzzling system. While the Institute does not have the resources to offer each of these people individualized advice, we feel it is our duty to help protect the poor, oppressed and those who lack a voice of their own. 


America’s death penalty system is fraught with mistakes and biases that lead to the wrongful taking of human life. The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees that no citizen will be denied their life, liberty, or property without the due process of law and the Eighth Amendment protects us from cruel or unusual punishments. But despite these constitutional assurances and mounting evidence that innocent people have been executed for crimes they did not commit, our government continues to hasten the death of hundreds of inmates. The Rutherford Institute feels compelled to challenge this horrible system. We do this by fighting to protect the due process rights of those facing the death penalty and by continuing to educate people on the inherent and deadly flaws of America’s death penalty system.

Our Recent Work in Prisoners’ Rights

Rutherford Institute Asks Eastern District Court to Hold Virginia Prison Officials Accountable to Maintaining Humane Conditions for Inmates

Rutherford Institute Calls Foul on Virginia Prison Officials for Subjecting Inmates to Dehumanizing Isolation & Avoiding Accountability

Religious Freedom Victory: 9-0 U.S. Supreme Court Rules Arkansas Prisons Must Accommodate Religious Beliefs of Prisoners in Accordance with Federal Law

Commentary on Prisoners’ Rights Issues

The American Nightmare: The Tyranny of the Criminal Justice System

Troy Davis Should Not Be Put to Death

The Death Penalty Is a Miscarriage of Justice: It Should Be Abolished

Virginians Should Say No to Expanding Death Penalty

Expanding the Death Penalty Is Fiscally Irresponsible

Killing in Secret: Death by Lethal Injection

Percy Walton Should Not Be Put to Death

Governor Warner Should Save Robin Lovitt from Death Row

The Tragedy of Locking Up Children in Adult Prisons

Dead Men Walking Should be Allowed to Read